Kaitlyn Mark made seven consecutive field goal attempts with five 3-pointers and finished with 28 in the best game of her life to lead Lynden to the Class 2A District 1 girls’ basketball title. Mark scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone to hold off Burlington-Edison 67-55 on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Mount Vernon High School.
But what excited Mark the most while she was holding the district championship trophy was some meaningful history.
“That’s the first time Lynden has ever won back-to-back district titles for the girls,” she said. “We all played so well together tonight. It was definitely our best game.”
Lynden will get a top seed in the state regional round Feb. 27-28. The Lions (16-7) and the Tigers (19-4) will learn their opponent dates and times on Sunday, Feb. 22.
Mark, who also grabbed 10 rebounds, wasn’t the only one hitting 3-pointers for the Lions, four different players hit 3s to give the Lions nine -- Elisa Kooiman, Jasmyne Neria, Mandy Warner, Lauren Zwiers.
Kooiman, who led the district tournament in scoring with 73 points in three games, scored on a drive to give Lynden its biggest lead at 45-28 late in the third quarter.
The Lions showed great poise, taking only 37 shots and making 23 for a remarkably efficient performance.
However, the Tigers didn’t win 19 games without some great efforts and they could definitely be proud of their 20-point fourth quarter surge.
Edie Breckenridge scored on a drive to pull the Tigers within 57-51 with 2:50 to play, capping an 8-0 run.
At that point, Kooiman scored on a baseline jumper and added a free throw and Mark then hit five consecutive free throws for a game clinching 65-42 lead with 37 seconds left.
Lynden coach Rob Adams was thrilled for the whole team, but especially for Mark and point guard Warner. Both of whom have been in the program for four years.
“Kaitlyn’s been due,” said Adams. “As seniors, Mandy and Kaitlyn have been the epitome of great program kids. They shed lots of tears as sophomores when we were eliminated at districts. That was the only time we haven’t made it to state (in his nine years as coach).”
Zwiers, a sophomore, came off the bench to hit a huge three early in the third quarter to make it 34-24 just when it seemed like Burlington was on the move. That made her the fifth Lynden girl to hit a 3-pointer.
“I told Lauren ‘your girl’s sagging off you row the boat’,” Adams said.
Burlington-Edison’s two substitute posts, Sam Alumbres and sophomore Rylee Gundersen gave Lynden a lot of trouble when they came off the bench to combine for 13 points.
“We are not the biggest team in the world. We are like the Little Engine That Could. Warner was ecstatic over fulfilling her dream of consecutive district titles with a chance now to earn a state trophy,” Adams said.
“This really amps us up for state. If we compete like we have been competing, we can do it. I believe in my team,” Warner said.
Warner said that when she was asked of Burlington’s fourth quarter comeback, with the widest smile she can manage.
Lynden 67, Burlington-Edison 55
Lynden: Mandy Warner 5, Lauren Zwiers 3, Jasmyne Neria 7, Mariah Gonzalez 0, Olivia Bonsen 0, Elisa Kooiman 24, Kaitlyn Mark 28, Emily Holt 0. Totals: 23-37 12-15 67.
Burlington-Edison: Brandy Smith 5, Tyra Lopez 6, Carly Watson 4, Edie Breckenridge 10, Allyson Ray 0, Katie Rodriguez 0, Olivia Capron 8, Delaney Watson 4, Rylee Gundersen 8, Emily Agen 5, Sam Alumbres 5. Totals: 19-51 15-20 55.
3-point field goals — Lynden: 9 (Mark 5); Burlington-Edison: 2 (Breckenridge, Smith 1). Rebounds — Lynden: 25 (Mark 10); Burlington-Edison: 28 (Capron 8). Assists — Lynden: 6 (Neria 3); Burlington-Edison: 6 (Breckenridge 3). Fouls — Lynden: 19; Burlington-Edison: 19. Turnovers — no information provided.